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Religion and foreign policy

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs yesterday issued a report urging President Obama to make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.” The task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of Notre Dame University and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

The report does not urge, of course, that U.S. foreign policy promote, or censure, any religious tradition, or play favorites. Nor does it suggest any union of church and state.

Belief after break-in

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This last weekend violence visited the Catholic Worker where I live. A long-time guest broke into one of our houses and made mayhem of our things.

For the past couple of days I’ve been struggling with trying to make sense of the incident, to give some reason to the unreasonableness of such an act.

The timeline of events doesn’t seem to provide much light.

Our hospitality on Saturday went as it usually does. We opened the doors at the normal time and welcomed around sixty people to join us for supper and fellowship.

After the hustle and bustle of hospitality — cooking food, eating with guests, selling bus passes, distributing gloves and socks — we began to close-up for the night. As we did, one of our guests asked us to write him a late entry pass for the local emergency shelter.

That’s pretty normal. What followed this time wasn’t.

Catholics urged to lobby bishops for health care reform

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Catholics United, the Catholic coalition of progressive voices, is calling on all Catholics and people of goodwill to join in asking the Catholic bishops to get behind health care reform. In an email to Catholics United's 42,000 members, Patricia Pignatiello, a Catholics United member for more than three years, relayed the story of her brother James.

This past June, James found himself in an emergency room with a treatable form of cancer – treatable that is, had he had insurance. Instead of getting treatment, Patricia’s brother was sent home coughing up blood. His cancer has now spread and Patricia writes "he is in a fight for his life."

She goes on: "The Catholic bishops have long been champions of justice and the common good. Unfortunately, there is a real possibility that they won’t support health care reform. Worse yet, they might even oppose it."

So Catholics United are lobbying bishops to support health care reform. They have a tool on their web site that allows individuals to email their bishops directly.

Patricia askes: "Will you join us in emailing the bishops in support of health care reform?"

The Easter Bunny with Real Estate

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has issued a report that argues U.S. foreign policy suffers from an ill-informed “uncompromising Western secularism” and argues that religious understanding and training of foreign policy personnel should become mandatory and that religion should become “an integral part of our foreign policy.”

It is about time. The report, the work of a task force headed by R. Scott Appleby of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, pin points a phenomenon that I am sure most readers have encountered. I call this the “Easter bunny with real estate” syndrome. You meet someone who is ostensibly smart and well educated but they can’t get their head around the idea that religious people have an intellectually justifiable worldview, that religion is not merely a private peccadillo but an on-going intellectual and spiritual tradition that is rich in ways the dominant secular worldview is not. They think of religion as the Easter bunny with real estate.

How to mark Benedict's fifth anniversary

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Latin Mass at the National Shrine in April

First such Mass at the shrine in nearly 45 years

If you haven't yet settled on a way to mark the fifth anniversary of the pontificate Benedict XVI, and if you're in the Washington, D.C., area, you may want to check this out.

The Paulus Institute, whose raison d'être is "for the propagation of sacred liturgy," announced today "the fifth anniversary of inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI will be commemorated in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C. by a Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the 'Extraordinary form' -- commonly known as the 'Traditional Latin Mass' or the 'Tridentine Mass.' "

The Mass will be celebrated by Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president emeritus of the Vatican's Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

The date: Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m.

America's Wealthiest Religions

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It's no secret that the distribution of wealth is inequitable in the United States across racial, regional, and socio-economic groups. But there is a distinct variance among and within America's faiths as well.

This transparency takes a look at the income levels of America's major religious groups, as compared to the average U.S. income distribution.

Read more: Transparency: America's Wealthiest Religions

Feb. 24, St. Ethelbert, King of Kent

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Today is the feast of St. Ethelbert, King of Kent, a descendant of Hengist, who led the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes into England.

Ethelbert was born in 560. He was a worshipper of Odin, but in 588, when he married Bertha, a daughter of King Charibert of Paris, as part of the nuptial agreement, he agreed to permit her to continue practicing her Christian faith. Bertha brought a chaplain to England with her, and King Ethelbert gave him an old church at Canterbury.

The pope and climate change deniers

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John Gehring, the communications director for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good who sometimes write think pieces for us, was a "guest voice" on the Washington Post's On Faith blog over the weekend.

His piece begins:

The Pope vs. climate change deniers

The recent blizzard of bunk coming from climate change deniers giddy over the recent Snowmageddon that paralyzed the nation's capital is a classic case of putting ideology and politics before science. While the overwhelming body of evidence from experts points to human causes exacerbating climate change - this means extreme weather and more intense storms not only rising temperatures - some politicians can barely contain their joy at the recent deep freeze.

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